Dealing with divorce is never easy. It can be emotionally, mentally, and financially draining. On top of the many practical adjustments and changes to life routines, ex-spouses must deal with the complicated and lengthy nature of divorce proceedings, which can be particularly difficult when a divorce is contentious. While litigants may often wish to ignore what is going on in their legal case and turn away from dealing with tough issues, this kind of an approach can cause significant problems during a divorce. As a recent case before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals illustrates, when one spouse chooses not to participate or be cooperative in divorce proceedings, it can lead to sanctions down the road.
In Wisconsin, courts may consider a wide range of factors when determining custody between two divorcing parents. Among these factors, Wisconsin courts are statutorily required to consider evidence of past domestic abuse. Wisconsin’s statutes do not require that a past history of abuse be dispositive, but it must be one of the factors that a court considers. A recent case before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals illustrates how this factor may be weighed against others in evaluating custody arrangements.
When dealing with a divorce in Wisconsin, courts must give careful consideration to the division of existing property, assets, and debts that a couple may have, as well as how to divide future obligations and income, if necessary. While Wisconsin courts typically start from the presumption that marital property should be divided equally between two spouses, such arrangements can be modified when it would be in the interest of the courts and the couple to do so. A recent Wisconsin Court of Appeals case considered and applied a creative approach for resolving spousal maintenance issues between a couple by instead offering one spouse an additional lump sum property award.